HC Deb 25 February 1970 vol 796 cc1183-5
15. Mr. Hall-Davis

asked the President of the Board of Trade what percentage of world trade in visible items was represented by British visible exports in 1969; and what was the comparable percentage in 1968.

Mr. Mason

The United Kingdom's share of exports of manufactures by the main manufacturing countries was 11 per cent. in the first threequarters of 1969 and in the year 1968.

Mr. Hall-Davis

Does not this compare unfavourably with the figure for 1966, which was 12.9 per cent.?

Mr. Mason

No, Sir. It reveals that as world trade grew—last year it grew at a particularly rapid rate—we managed to maintain our share of that trade, whereas previously when there was expansion in world trade we generally went down. The latest trend is most interesting and encouraging.

Mr. Henig

In view of the increasing industrialisation of many parts of the world which were not previously industrialised, is not this figure of Britain's share of world trade the most meaningless figure that is compiled?

Mr. Mason

These are the figures that hon. Members want to know about, and I am giving them. As nations become more industrialised and as other nations go from a developing to a developed status, our share of the trade in industrialised goods and sophisticated manufactures should increase.

17. Mr. Speed

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was, from information available to him from international sources, the increase in the value of world trade in dollar terms in 1969; and how this compares with the increase in the value of British exports in dollar terms in the same year.

34. Mr. Blaker

asked the President of the Board of Trade why Great Britain's exports expressed in dollar terms grew at a lower rate in 1969 than did world trade; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mason

Exports of manufactures by main manufacturing countries increased by 17 per cent, between the first threequarters of 1968 and the same period of 1969; for the United Kingdom the increase was 15 per cent. Over the first threequarters of 1969, for which figures are available, our exports grew only slightly less fast than did world trade in manufactures. In the past, our share has tended to fall sharply when world trade has grown rapidly. The virtual maintenance of our share has been very encouraging.

Mr. Speed

Does my right hon. Friend share the concern of the Governor of the Bank of England that wage inflation could jeopardise our exports this year?

Mr. Mason

This matter is very much in the forefront of the Government's mind. If wage increases go on at too high and too rapid a rate, then that will obviously be reflected in our costs, which, in turn, will impair our competitiveness.

Mr. Blaker

As the right hon. Gentleman said that he wishes to give figures which hon. Members want and, therefore, which are useful, may I ask him to remember that when talking about increased exports it would be useful to give figures, certainly in respect of the period since devaluation, not in sterling terms but more in dollar terms or by volume; and will he ensure that his colleagues make clear what terms they are using?

Mr. Mason

I remind the hon. Gentleman that the question asked for this information in dollar terms. I have done that. I hope that hon. Members who take an interest in these matters will not fall into the dollar trap, as it were, of asking for figures in dollar terms because since devaluation was designed to increase the value of our exports, initially there was a sharp fall in our world share of exports measured in dollar terms.

26. Mr. Lane

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the percentage increase in British exports in dollar terms in a five-year period to the latest convenient date; and what, from information available to him from international sources, were the comparable figures for the rest of the world, excluding the United Kingdom and the Sovietbloc,and for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries apart from the United Kingdom respectively.

Mr. Mason

Between the 12 months ended September, 1964 and the 12 months ended September, 1969, 35 per cent., 60 per cent. and 70 per cent., respectively.

Mr. Lane

In the very competitive months ahead, what further steps will the Government take to lessen Government-imposed burdens on exporters and help exporters to keep down their prices?

Mr. Mason

The allegation about Government-imposed burdens on exports is baseless. We are paying six times more money in assisting British exports and helping British industry than we were in 1964.

Mr. Snow

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the workers in industries which are dealing with exports predominantly will greatly resent the constant pinpricks and derogation of their efforts by the Opposition?

Mr. Mason

I absolutely agree. What is inspiring questions from the Opposition today is their terrible fear that the export-led boom is beginning to work.